Archive for the ‘Cinnabar Theater’ Category

Review of Cinnabar Theater’s LaBoheme by David Fickbohm of Theaterkat

In Cinnabar Theater on November 6, 2009 at 11:42 pm
La Boheme

La Boheme

Dave Fickbohm lives in Marin County and regularly reviews live theater productions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Contact Dave Fickbohm at

Outside it is a beautiful evening in Petaluma in front of the Cinnabar Theater but within, snow falls on Christmas Eve in 1920 Paris in artistic director Elly Lichenstein’s production of Puccini’s La Boheme.  This production serves as a vehicle for a visually convincing and memorable set of youthful principals. 

 This is an English adaptation by Donald Pippin of Pocket Opera fame.  Pippin’s adaptation brings out the theme of love, which bears a timeless relevance in this story of struggling artists who can celebrate love superbly but whose poverty almost ends a relationship.

 Opera in the intimate Cinnabar Theater is a treat.  Sit anywhere in the audience and you are involved, almost on stage, you see the singers working hard to produce the proper sound.  

 Heading the cast, Leslie Sandefur as Mimì and Will Hart Meyer as her Rodolfo were very impressive and made for a credible, good looking pair of lovebirds.

Sandefur was stellar as Puccini’s frail seamstress. The soprano displayed a radiant, deeply expressive instrument that was precisely focused and well knit throughout. Sandefur built her opening aria beautifully, opening with a pure, virtually colorless sound as if her voice had been chilled by the Paris winter then steadily warmed up her tone, blossoming ecstatically, vividly conveying the longings that Rodolfo has stirred in her character. Her pianissimos in all her arias were beautifully supported and truly poignant.

Meyer provided a compelling depiction of the struggling poet. Although the tenor at first sounded tentative his voice flowered as he progressed with a warm, full tone, which he showcased to great effect through the rest of the proceedings, along with gorgeously sculpted phrases and well-connected high notes.

Baritone Todd Donovan was a simpatico Marcello, with a resplendent, rich voice and deft dramatic skills. Equally successful was the Musetta of Julia Hathaway. The soprano showed flair as a comedienne.  She has a rich voice and was right on pitch.

William O’Neill was a robust Colline. The young bass exhibited a sonorous voice and delivered a first-rate performance. As Schaunard, baritone Eugene Walden sang and acted well. Bass James Pfeiffer dispatched the part of Benoit and Alcindoro with verve.

The choristers as street performers, street vendors, waiters, a seamstress, and girls on the town, adults and children alike, shone in Scene II of Act I.  

In the pit, Nina Shuman led the Opera Orchestra in an ardent performance of Puccini’s colorful score. 

The production is notable for Scott Barringer’s elaborate depiction of Parisian locates and Wayne Hovey and Mark Robinson’s magical lighting. Lisa Eldredge’s costumes were wonderful.

Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Libretto: Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, based on the novel Scenes de la vie de Boheme by Henry Murger

Adaptation: Donald Pippin

Music Director: Nina Scuman

Stage Director: Elly Lichenstein

When: October 30 to November 21, 2009

7:30 p.m. Wednesdays (Nov 4, 11,& 18) 8 p.m. Friday’s (Oct 30, Nov 6, 13,20);
8 p.m. Saturdays (Nov 7 & 21); 3 p.m. Sundays (Nov 1 & 15)

Cost: $32 to $38

Presale $35 General, $32 Senior & Student;

At the door $35 to $38

Tickets available online, by phone or at the door.

Reservations recommended.

Where: Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd, North Petaluma, CA

Box Office / Info: 707 763 8920



Review of On The Verge (or the Geography of Yearning)

In Cinnabar Theater on October 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm
Three Victorian women representing the past, present, and future

Three Victorian women representing the past, present, and future


Dave Fickbohm lives in Marin County and regularly reviews live theater productions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Contact Dave Fickbohm at

Of all the worlds left to explore, the only one completely forbidden to mankind’s prying eyes has always been the future.

In an amusing revival of Eric Overmyer’s “On the Verge,” by the Cinnabar Theater, three Victorian-era American ladies set out for an unspecified virgin territory.

Wearing pith helmets and long dresses, the trio — Mary, Fanny and Alex — land on an island “somewhere east of Australia and west of Peru.”

 Armed with parasols and machetes, they “whack the bushes,” as Mary puts it, in the jungle. As they make their way, stopping occasionally for powder breaks and picnics, they argue over whether women should wear trousers and why jungles aren’t more like gardens and swap exaggerated tales of their adventures.

All of this is humorous in a Monty Pythonesque way, and Mr. Overmyer is agile with his wordplay. But as the ladies press on things take a curious turn. They begin to find artifacts they cannot identify. There are the eggbeaters, for instance, which they take to be amulets. There is also a large metal button with an inscription — “I Like Ike” — on it. But it is only when they find a 1972 newspaper clipping about someone named “President Nixon” that they finally realize they are “dancing through the wilderness of time.”

They finally land in 1955, and Fanny and Alexandra decide that they like Eisenhower’s America just fine and opt to stay. Mary, however, resolves to press on. She feels “on the verge of something grand,” giving the play, subtitled “The Geography of Yearning,” an optimistic view of what lies ahead.

If there is a point to the exercise beyond its humor, it would be as a celebration of the mystery of that terra incognita known as the future.

A quartet of good actors keep the play lively, especially fine performances from Jessica Powell as Mary, and Laura Jorgensen, whose comic timing is always impeccable, as Fanny. Liz Jahren does a wonderful job with the part of Alexandra, and Tim Kniffin in all the male roles gives solid support.

Elizabeth Craven’s direction is smooth and well-paced.  The set is simple so as not to distract from the hilarious lines of the three ladies.   Wayne Hovey devised a way to project scenes on the wall behind the stage, providing the ability to change the scene quickly and with no disruption or break in the comic action.   Steven Dietz should be mentioned for his wonderful use of very appropriate sounds that enhanced the play.

On The Verge is a winner. Do not miss it.


What: Eric Overmyer’s “On The Verge (or the Geography of Yearning”

Who: Cinnabar Theater

Where: The Cinnabar 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N. Petaluma, CA 94952

When: Sept 25 to Oct 11, 2009

8:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

2:00 p.m. Sundays

TICKETS:       Order online; by telephone; at the door.

 COST:   $22-$28

Advance $20 to $25. At the door $22 to $28.

Teen night: $10 for ages 12 to 19 on Oct 8.

Phone Information: 707 763 8920

Order tickets online, by telephone 10 a. m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.



Rating: Five stars out of five


PLEASE NOTE:  This co-production moves to the Studio Theater at the 6th street Playhouse in Santa Rosa from Oct. 30 to Nov. 22, 2009




5:30 p.m. Oct 3 CINNABARBRUNCH/DINNER at Jacqueline’s High Tea in Petaluma.

Oct 4 – BOOK CLUB Post show